What do you do when you or your loved one wants to quit the cancer fight? In this blog post, Tambre reveals how she handled the night her husband looked up from the dining room table where he’d been sitting with his head in his hands trying to breathe, and told her he wanted to give up.
Normally, I would wake up when Gary, my husband, moved even an inch. But this time exhaustion had the upper hand. When I finally noticed he was no longer in bed, I went in search of him.
Leaning against the dining room door frame for support, I asked him what was wrong. He was two years into treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma and the past few months had not gone well. Lymphedema flooded his legs until it looked like the skin would burst. Persistent coughing and itching meant he could get very little uninterrupted sleep. He was suffering. Period. I had no idea where he found the strength some days to keep going but that didn’t prepare me for what he was about to say. It started with a few words about how hard it was.
Then came the only time he ever almost gave up.
“Maybe it would just be better for us both if I killed myself.”
Thank goodness for righteous anger, which is exactly what Gary triggered in me in that moment.
"I get that it’s hard and I get that I’m not the one who has to deal with the treatments, the side effects and the pain," I answered. "But if that’s the choice you’re going to make you need to tell me right now and I will pack my things and go. I will support you through this every step of the way, but only if you are going to fight…fight for you and for me. If you’re going to quit, I understand but then I choose to leave."
He got very quiet and we both cried.
Finally, he looked up at me and I knew he’d decided to keep fighting. By answering several key questions, Gary was able to confirm to me that he did not have a plan or intention to do harm to himself. Had I not been 100% confident in this, I would have taken immediate action.
The next morning, I supported him to set up a therapy appointment to explore his thoughts of suicide and he was able to recognize that he had said those words out of frustration, pain, exhaustion and fear. Gary got the professional help he needed to work through these feelings and, from that moment on, he never again gave up on himself.
You are not alone.
Sometimes when you’re struggling with physical or emotional issues, it can feel like you’re all on your own...or you may have such low energy you simply can’t find a way to reach out. The truth is, you are not alone. Add a note in the comments below and connect with someone here on
I Had Cancer. Ask for a resource or referral.
People truly do care; that’s what is behind the creation of great organizations like “I Had Cancer”. They are here for you.
If you or someone you are caring for has thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for support or call 911.